Monday, June 21, 2010

Seeking Simplicity Through Contentment

As many of you have read, my theme for the year is Simplify. I've made more progress in the last six months than I ever thought possible, but there will always be room for more simplicity. A big part of simplifying is learning to be content. And in our culture, boy is that hard! Every time you turn around there's another advertisement for something you need to buy and can't live without.

Even in the world of simplification you can take things to excess - just take a trip to The Container Store. I've often been guilty of purchasing tons of organizing equipment, but never actually using that equipment to get organized. It's an easy trap to fall in.

I found I am able to truly embrace simplification when I am also living in contentment. And yet, some days I am content and others I am not! What is so different about those days of contentment?


I wake up with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Today is one of those days. In my mind, I truly contemplate the "gifts" I am blessed with each day.

I have been blessed with a family - a loving husband, and two children. I admit, I do not show gratitude for this every day. I often am living for self and frustrated with the demands that family puts on me - which in turn allow less "me time". Who started this idea of "me time" anyway? I'm fairly certain there is no "me time" in the bible. There are times of prayer - yes - but I never read about Jesus heading to the day spa to refuel.

Today I have been the happiest I've been in days, and I have done really nothing for myself. I have spent the day serving my family in gratitude. Preparing meals, cleaning our home, bathing children, and being still.

I instituted a "Day of No Yelling". This may not be a problem for many of you, but for others like myself who use yelling to get our point across (with our children and even our husbands sometimes), a day without yelling is really hard. Most of use of yelling is just pure laziness. Why get up and correct and train my child, when I can yell from another room to "Get down and stop that!"? As if that really had any beneficial effect. They may stop (only for a minute) 60% of the time, or more and more frequently, just ignore me and continue their dive bombs from the top of the couch.

I think gentleness and stillness breeds contentment as well. I have tried to remain calm and quiet in the face of wild animals (aka my children), and I have eliminated almost all of the frustration, anxiety, and exhaustion from my morning.

I have guarded my time ruthlessly. During the summer, play dates are as numerous as weeds in my yard (if you've ever seen our yard, you know that we in fact only have weeds, not grass). Everyone is wanting to get out of the house and socialize. And as much as I truly love all my friends, I am drained, not refreshed by large group play dates. I am an introvert and flourish in one on one visits with friends, but quickly become overwhelmed in the multitude of mommies at the park.

We were invited to multiple play dates today, but from the beginning I could see that the pace of the day was going to be relaxed and quiet - and I wanted to keep it that way. There are few things more enjoyable than being at home with my little ones and delighting in simple pleasures. I know that the hustle and bustle of trying to wrangle little ones today was going to lead to short tempers, meltdowns, and chaos - not what my spirit was up for today.

And while I'll miss the company of good friends, my body and soul needed rest - and my mountain of laundry needed to be tackled.

How do you find contentment? What are the simple pleasures you enjoy each day? What are you grateful for today?

**This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge


Anna @ Feminine Adventures said...

Visiting from Steady Mom. Great post!

Recently, my toddler taught me a lesson on gratitude. You are so right, mom's attitude makes all the difference. If I'm stressed out or complaining, my family suffers. When I choose to rejoice in God's abundant blessings, peace rules the home.

Aiming4Simple said...

Beautifully said and so true.

Carolyn said...

Oh dear- "a day without yelling".... Oh wow!! Not sure I can do that without an extra coffee!
gratitude is such a big factor in attitude both for the kiddos and for me. Loved your post,

Nina said...

a day without yelling...yikes that might be harder than a day without tv ;) but I've been striving for contentment for a long time so I'll try it.

part of how I find contentment is just slowing down. sitting, eating breakfast outside without (many) outside distractions.

sometimes when I'm really bugged with my son I try to step back and just make things funny. sometimes we just laugh and laugh and laugh. with a puppy we've been doing lots more of that lately. its letting things happen even if they aren't great...usually I overcorrect. so last night the dog pulled an old muddy hairband out of the bushes in our yard and was chewing on it, then it got around his neck (not dangerous he had flipped it up) and it was the funniest thing watching him try to find it and then get it off, we laughed for probably 5 minutes. previously, I would have run over and pulled that nasty thing out of his mouth immediately and thrown it away.